The 71st annual Golden Globe Awards took place on Jan. 12, 2014, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Here is what this Golden Globe winner said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Was your relationship with your former financial adviser Dana Giacchetto, who went to prison for fraud, your inspiration for doing “The Wolf of Wall Street”?
I certainly read, and the people like this and being in New York and spending so much time in New York. No, I wouldn’t say that he was a direct influence. This came from spending time with Jordan [Belfort] and reading his novel and spending so much time on Wall Street and trying to put up on the screen as authentically as you possibly could, this culture, this world. I had been kind of obsessed with doing this project ever since 2008, really, after the economic crash.
I said this level of hedonism, this world needs to be portrayed authentically up on screen. In a lot of ways it was a reflection of the world around us. So this became an obsession of mine. So it was all in the research process of getting to know those people as much as I possibly could.
You have been coming to the Golden Globe since you were basically a kid. Where would you put this Jordan Belfort character — not just the win, but the character — in your career?
After having done five films with Marty [Scorsese] now, it has been an incredible collaboration. Not only that, I notice each time we do a film, it is a discovery process for both of us. In this film, we knew we weren’t taking on precious American literature. We were trying to portray as best we could the very nature of who these people were. So for the both of us, this took its own shape in the reflection of the characters.
Plot was kind of irrelevant for him, and he encouraged all of us actors to improvise and re-improvise that improvisation and be free and really push the boundaries every single day. When you infuse that kind of attitude in your actors, I think you get a movie like this. I am just thankful that Martin Scorsese is still this punk rock, still this vital at 71 years old. There’s no filmmakers left like this. This man’s amazing. He’s one of the greatest artists of our time.
Who are the Bob and Sandy you mentioned in your acceptance speech?
Those are my cousins, two partners that got married a couple months ago and we celebrated yesterday.
Is it all the more significant to win for “The Wolf of Wall Street” because you were so involved in it from the beginning?
The truth is there have only been two projects in my entire career that I really pushed as hard as I could to put up on the big screen, and they both took about eight to 10 years to actually come to fruition. One was “The Aviator,” and I picked up a book about Howard Hughes when I was 21. And I developed that with Michael Mann and took 10 years to get up on the screen. Marty thankfully did that.
And then this was the other one. I kind of created a production company unto itself just to find material outside the studio system. I don’t know that I am going to find something I am as passionate about again. This has great significance for me. I am just so proud to be able to have Marty be at the helm of it. There’s no one better. I am incredibly honored.
You are one of the greatest actors. How easy is it to be going into a role and coming out of it? What helps you find the balance between the real you and the roles that you play?
It is an interesting question, one that I don’t know if I have an answer to. Every role is different. This film in particular took on a life of its own. I stopped this film, and it was like a giant adrenaline dump. I haven’t been able to work since, really. It was a phenomenal experience.
I suppose I have been doing this for a long period of time, but making movies is an interesting process. You put your life on hold, and these characters really do envelop you for better or worse. Thank God none of the attributes of this character rubbed off in my real life, because I probably wouldn’t be standing here today.
It seems like your roles are becoming more and more complicated and also more morally questionable. What your next one is going to be?
I have no idea. I have no idea what my next role is going to be. What Marty does so well is portray the darker nature of humanity up on screen, and he does those characters. He’s not didactic in his approach to filmmaking. That’s a very rare occurrence. I can only hope to find out character that’s like that.
It was the novel that was so honest, when Jordan tried to put in his book a time period where he went way too far and became consumed with the greed and wealth and power. So I have no idea if I am going to find something this interesting to do in the future. I can only cross my fingers and hope to.
For more info: Golden Globe Awards website
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